Rethinking Schools: Chicago points the way for a new teacher unionism.
January 17, 2013
The editors of Rethinking Schools draw lessons for the teacher union movement from the recent events in Chicago.
Some people describe this new unionism as an organizing model. Others call it “social justice unionism” or “social movement unionism.” Regardless, the Chicago teachers demonstrated its main features:
Unapologetically defend wages and working conditions of public school educators. Teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions.
Stand up for students, the teaching profession, and an equal and nurturing education that embraces the whole child.
Defend public education—the only educational institution in our communities that has the capacity, commitment, and legal obligation to serve all children.
Forge alliances with parents and community organizations to work for better schools and for social justice in the entire community.
Build democratic union structures that encourage members to be organizers and active participants.
In cities around the country, teachers and other education activists are strategizing how the lessons from Chicago’s strike can be applied to their specific situations. It is time to use the energy and lessons from Wisconsin and Chicago to refocus the national narrative on education, to strengthen and transform our unions, and to broaden the fight for quality education for all.